The Travis Letter - "Victory or Death"
News Flash: The world famous "Victory or Death" letter written by William
Barrett Travis will be available for public viewing at the Alamo between February 23 and March 7, 2013. Read
the actual letter on the grounds of the Alamo itself. You do not want to miss this one! Texans and
Texas history fans are planning on making the pilgrimage to this once in a lifetime
The world famous "Victory
or Death" letter was penned by Lt. Col. William Barrett Travis while besieged within the Alamo by the Mexican army
in San Antonio de Bexar. The Travis letter is universally regarded as one of the most heroic letters ever
written. Facing almost certain
death, Travis vowed never to surrender or retreat and to "die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to
his own honor & that of his country — Victory or Death."
The Travis letter is dated
February 24, 1836. Some have mistakenly referred to this as Travis' last letter from the Alamo. He wrote at
least four more letters. Travis wrote a letter to General Sam Houston dated February 25, 1836 and three letters
dated March 3, 1836. One of Travis' letters dated March 3, 1836 which urgently requested aid for
the Alamo was received by the Convention at Washington, Texas on March 6, 1836. The delegates to the
Convention at Washington had declared the independence of Texas four days before on March 2,
Travis never did surrender
or retreat. After a thirteen day siege by thousands of Mexican soldiers under the command of Mexican
President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, the Alamo fell on March 6, 1836. All of the Alamo's 189
defenders, including William Barrett Travis, were killed. The country he and the others died for, the
Republic of Texas, was only four days old.
The original "Victory
or Death" letter written by William Barrett Travis on February 24, 1836 is located in the Texas State Library and
Archives in Austin, Texas.
Commandancy of the The Alamo
Bejar, Feby. 24th. 1836
To the People of Texas & All Americans in the
Fellow Citizens & compatriots—
I am besieged, by a thousand or more of
the Mexicans under Santa Anna — I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours &
have not lost a man — The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put
to the sword, if the fort is taken — I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still
waves proudly from the walls — I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the
name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all
dispatch — The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand
in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible
& die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country —
Victory or Death.
William Barrett Travis.
P. S. The Lord is on our side — When the enemy appeared in
sight we had not three bushels of corn — We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels and got
into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves.
The Travis "Victory or Death" Letter
Located in the Texas State Library and Archives, Austin, Texas
Document transcribed by Marisa A. Searle.